Jason Johnson sees James Silva’s The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile as a gory dance that toys with our expectations:
We call it play, but our options in a videogame are generally so narrow that it feels more like being dominated. A cold and mechanical algorithm looms over us, and all we can do is push left, right, B, or A. We walk in a straight line with chains on our feet, even when we choose the direction. To be fair, Vampire Smile is also a straight line, but it lets me dance along the way. For once, the game submits to me. Fighting is loose and liberating. I can move anywhere on the screen I want. The only time I’m asked to play Simon with the bad guys-the matching game of well-timed blocks and attacks that most fighters rely on-is when I tap X to cut their heads off. I’m given control over a vast, intricate meat grinder, and all the program can do is throw more meat at it and hope a bone gets caught in the bearings.
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